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Milly Hernandez
Milly Hernandez

EDINBURG, RGV – Milly Hernandez and Jason Arms, two officers from FIRST-RGV, recently spoke at the Region 1 Education Service Center in Edinburg to expand their robotics program to South Texas schools.

According to their official website, FIRST-RGV is a non-profit group of professionals, mentors and various volunteers from science, technology and engineering careers. Their goal is to help students broaden and explore the careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Hernandez, chief operating officer of FIRST-RGV, and Arms, chief executive officer of FIRST-RGV, presented to about 24 teachers from different school districts such as Kingsville, Brownsville and La Joya.

“Right now, everybody is pushing STEM,” Hernandez said. “There is a very critical shortage not only in Hispanics, but there’s also a lot of shortage in women. So, we’re trying to push a lot of these careers when students are young and that’s why FIRST is a great program. It’s a progressional program that starts at the elementary level and then it progresses into middle school and then high school.”

Previously, FIRST didn’t have a formal organization in the Valley. FIRST had a presence in Laredo and Corpus Christi. However, there are now about 2,500 kids from K to K-12 participating in the FIRST program.

Jason Arms
Jason Arms

“These sort of programs are very important here in the Valley,” Arms said. “Because what it does is we try to keep our engineers local. We try to keep our higher educated folks local because it has an economic impact in our community. It allows us to raise our tax base, our quality of life and to show the entire region, state and world that the Valley is no longer a third world country–that we are a powerhouse. Through our bridge, we make billions of dollars a year in commerce and if we can keep our engineers here and raise the local income, and through all the economic impact, we become a real powerhouse for the region.”

According to their website, FIRST-RGV robotics competition participants are documented to have over 88 percent more interest in school, 90 percent have more interest in taking a challenging math or science course and 90 percent are more interested in attending college.